Some people who are having a custom home built are confident in their ability to choose colors and materials for their new home. Most people, on the other hand, would rather have the guidance of a professional to ensure their home is decorated to their tastes without costly errors in design or decor.
When searching for an interior decorator, you want to have a conversation to uncover whether that decorator is a good fit for you.
The Biggest Question
Here's the one question to ask to get that conversation started:
"What is your philosophy on style?"
That's a pretty open-ended question that could be interpreted in many different ways. It will probably create an awkward pause in the conversation while the designer thinks about the answer.
A Designer's Answers Tell All
What I've seen in my experience building hundreds of homes tells me that the decorator's overall philosophy has a huge impact on the overall satisfaction of the client. It also affects the confidence with which the client creates the overall look and feel they had envisioned.
There are probably as many design philosophies as there are decorators, but they all fall somewhere in between two extremes:
- 1. Do whatever the client wants with almost no input or pushback.
- 2. Try to push the client into whatever is the latest trendy style (or whatever is the decorator's personal taste).
Obviously, something in between those two extremes is the ideal. But you may be wondering what's wrong with a decorator who does whatever the client wants. After all, it's your house, right?
The client's answers
It is, and the answer lies in getting to the bottom of "what the client wants." What the client really wants and what she says she wants might be two very different things. Remember when you were little, or one of your kids was little, and you (or he or she) dressed yourself (or him/herself) for the first time? The child's sole desire was to be independent, regardless of the lack of taste or style of the chosen outfit.
Well, we're adults now, and while we still have particular and very individual tastes, we likely recognize that we have limitations in knowing how to put together individual colors and materials to bring those tastes to life. You might know it's right when you see it, but you might not be able to create it from scratch.
The realtor's answers
That's where the professional comes in—the decorator with the philosophy that says, "I'm going to listen and understand this person's tastes, then I'm going to craft a combination of materials and colors that reflects that in a tasteful way. I want the client to look at and say, 'That's it!'"
Beware of an Interior Designer...
1. Who only takes orders.
Beware of the order-taker, the decorator who just lays out a bunch of samples and expects you to pick. That never ends well, and it can be a painful process. Have you seen how many colors are in a Sherwin-Williams paint sample deck?
2. Who wants to put their 'stamp' on your home.
Also beware of the decorator who wants to put her own "stamp" on your house, as if it were some kind of trophy. Similarly, beware of the decorator who is so enamored with the design style of a particular celebrity designer that you end up with something completely different than what you were going for or a home that looks like every other one built in the past four years.
Ultimately, you want an interior designer who seeks to truly understand your style and create a home that fits who you are. Asking about their personal design style is a great way to start that conversation.